Pandemic or not, Evelyn and Summer Hasama keep on coding. The first-year twin sisters have won first place for apps they’ve developed together, not just once but twice already this academic year.
In November, they won first place in the 5C Hackathon for their app Event Check. Even with this recent win, the sisters did not expect to win when they presented their new app, DonateIt, to a panel of judges from Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and Visa, a month later in December during a competition held at the end of their CodePath IOS mobile development course.
“We honestly thought we had no chance of winning,” says Summer. “We were a team of two, while all the other teams had three or four – we were outnumbered. And we are just freshmen, while some of other students were juniors and seniors.”
DonateIt helps connect individuals who are donating items with neighbors who might want those items. Explaining what inspired them, the sisters told CodePath that “Instead of throwing it in the trash, we wanted to create something that would make use of these things by donating them to individuals within our community.”
Evelyn and Summer had six weeks to work on the app, three weeks to brainstorm and another three to get the code down. CodePath paired the duo with a software engineer at Microsoft who served as their mentor during the process.
Around the same time, one of their computer science professors at Pomona told them about the 5C Hackathon, an annual coding competition open to Claremont Colleges students that ran from November 6-8. This year, the Hackathon was held virtually with the theme of “Public Health & Innovation.”
The Hasama sisters won first place with their iOS app, Event Check, which allows users to go through health and safety checks like a symptom checklist and mask verification process in order to receive access to an event on campus.
For the sisters, winning first place at the Hackathon with Event Check and then shortly after at CodePath with DonateIt is exciting, but that’s only part of the fun. “Even if we didn’t win, we’re just really excited to build it and share our creation.”
The sisters are able to dedicate hours to their coding hobby while also maintaining balance in their academic and social lives. “It’s definitely difficult to balance but when you’re taking a course you’re really interested in, it’s not difficult to dedicate time to it,” says Summer. Both are part of the Asian American Mentor Program (AAMP) and taking a full load of courses at Pomona, while also training for Pomona-Pitzer’s women’s soccer team.
“As student athletes, we have learned to manage our time as best we can,” explains Evelyn, who is also a student worker for the Pomona-Pitzer women’s soccer team. Even though the players can’t be together during the pandemic, “we are able to do everything from wherever we are. The coaching staff provides us with resources, different workouts and trainings, and the team syncs up for Zoom workouts,” says Evelyn.
Both have found flexibility and understanding during remote classes and trainings led by their professors and coach. However, they also yearn to be able to live on campus soon and experience Pomona’s learning environment in person.
“Pomona is a great environment to learn a bunch of new things and meet different people,” says Evelyn. “I’m looking forward to being able to do more of that when we return to campus.”